Dogs with human names are pretty great, right?
For instance, I know a Canadian golden retriever named Carl.
But Gordon the German Shorthaired Pointer might just take the cake. And at nearly 2 years old, Gordon's dynamic demeanor makes him a perfect fit for his "dog dad," soft-spoken Vikings kicker Dan Bailey.
"He's just full of personality," Bailey said. "He's very vocal. Not in a bad way, but he likes to have your attention all the time. He'll – I can't even describe it – it's kind of like a whine, but it's not really a whine. He doesn't bark a ton, but he just makes some really crazy noises and is very, very vocal. He has a ton of energy.
"He's like Velcro. Anywhere you go, he's right there at your hip. Has to be beside you – or whoever – all the time," Bailey continued. "He's just playful. He's very high-energy, high-drive, just go, go, go all the time. It's just a ton of personality, which is what I wanted. He can be a little overbearing at times, but he's a good dog, for sure."
View photos of Vikings K Dan Bailey and his dog, Gordon, who are featured in this edition of Purple Pups.
Growing up, Bailey never had a dog of his own (although he has vague memories of a beagle who destroyed the family's backyard).
He did, however, have a soccer teammate whose family bred German Shorthairs. Bailey enjoyed spending time with the dogs. He also later went bird and duck hunting with friends who were accompanied by Brittany and Labrador breeds.
"Once I got older and out of college, I was like, 'I've got to get me a dog. It's been probably 20 years that I haven't had one.' So pretty much since then, I've had one," said Bailey, who owned a chocolate Lab before Gordon.
And the question remains: What – or who – inspired the name?
"There's a little bit of randomness to it. I was just trying to think of a name that I liked. This is going to sound a little bit nerdy," Bailey laughed, "But I've always enjoyed space and the history of that, NASA. There was an astronaut, one of the Mercury 7, and his name was Gordon Cooper, and he's [also from Oklahoma]. So that was kind of part of it.
"I mean, I didn't [directly] name him after an astronaut, but I liked the name – Gordo – and it's turned out to fit his personality perfectly," Bailey added. "Kind of the crossover there with some of my personal interests over the years, it just worked out."
Bailey hasn't gone hunting with Gordon yet, but he hasn't ruled out one day picking the activity back up and bringing along his pup pal.
"He's really smart, and he's really attentive to anything I try to teach him. He usually catches on pretty quick," Bailey said. "But he's gotten almost too smart for his own good. He'll do anything if I have food. He's very food-driven. He'll sit, stay, roll over. … The one that I struggle with is if he gets off on a scent or something, he doesn't like to come back, so I have to get his attention with food or something."
Vikings Connected is a light hearted look at the Vikings players and organization through social media as well as an opportunity to showcase the personalities on the team. Returning for their 7th season are co-hosts Erin Newburg, and Chris Hawkey from the Vikings Radio Flagship KFAN.
And although Bailey is intentional about Gordon's dog-food diet, it only makes sense that a classy-named canine would also have a taste for "people food" – popcorn, to be specific.
"If I'm making a bag of popcorn, he's already like Velcro, but he will not give it up. So if I accidentally drop a piece or something, he's all over it. He loves popcorn," Bailey said. "But other than that, I'm pretty strict on it. I try not to feed him any people food at all. But sometimes, you know, it happens 'on accident.' "
It's safe to say that Bailey's a dog person for life.
The companionship and love a pup provides, he said, truly embody the "man's best friend" adage. And especially during a 2020 of political and societal division and a global pandemic, it's possible that Gordon can teach us a thing or two about outlook.
"I'm sure everybody's been through it – there's times where it just feels like the world's crashing in on you, and to have [Gordon], that companion in the house that just has no concept at all of what's going on – to him, everything's the same – it kind of helps you put things back in perspective.
"I can think, 'Man, if I just look at the world through his eyes and get out of my own way and quit stressing about things, life would probably be a lot more simple and a lot more enjoyable,' " Bailey added.